Peace Corps:

Meeting the Challenges of the 1990s

NSIAD-90-122: Published: May 18, 1990. Publicly Released: May 22, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Peace Corps' operations and activities.

GAO found that the Peace Corps: (1) was unable to make significant progress in attaining a congressional mandate of 10,000 volunteers; (2) did not fully implement mechanisms to attract volunteers with scarce skills, such as doctors, veterinarians, education specialists, and crop extension agents; (3) relied heavily on recruitment methods it used to attract generalists; (4) despite failing to provide career paths or adequate incentives to recruiters to seek scarce-skill volunteers, instructed its overseas staff not to request volunteers with scarce skills; (5) met nearly 100 percent of the requests for generalists, but filled only about 60 percent of requests for individuals with scarce skills; (6) did not consistently develop adequate assignments for volunteers; (7) needed to attract more minorities to serve as volunteers so that it would accurately reflect the diverse U.S. population; (8) until recently, had few minorities in upper-level management to serve as recruitment role models; and (9) did not devote consistent efforts or significant resources to give returned volunteers the opportunity to teach Americans about foreign cultures.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Peace Corps will reemphasize host government commitment to continuation of work.

    Recommendation: The Director, Peace Corps, should require that systematic procedures are put in place to ensure that each country post develops periodic, comprehensive program plans that, at a minimum, provide for a host government commitment to support continuation of the work.

    Agency Affected: Peace Corps

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Peace Corps began IPBS Stage II project assessments in September 1990, and is providing training in evaluation, including volunteer performance.

    Recommendation: The Director, Peace Corps, should require that systematic procedures are put in place to ensure that each country post develops periodic, comprehensive program plans that, at a minimum, provide for adequate oversight of the volunteers' projects.

    Agency Affected: Peace Corps

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Peace Corps initiated PATS to improve the utilization of volunteers.

    Recommendation: The Director, Peace Corps, should require that systematic procedures are put in place to ensure that each country post develops periodic, comprehensive program plans that, at a minimum, provide for well-developed assignment plans for the utilization of volunteers upon their arrival in country.

    Agency Affected: Peace Corps

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Peace Corps implemented the programming and training system (PATS). All projects should be converted to PATS by early fiscal year (FY) 1993.

    Recommendation: The Director, Peace Corps, should require that systematic procedures are put in place to ensure that each country post develops periodic, comprehensive program plans that, at a minimum, provide for clear, workable contributions to the countries' continuing development.

    Agency Affected: Peace Corps

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The GAO January 1992 report, NSIAD-92-76, reported that the Peace Corps has strengthened its commitment to attracting minorities and has increased minority representation among volunteers from 7 percent in May 1990 to 12 percent in July 1991. The Peace Corps now targets predominantly minority colleges and universities and has awarded a contract to attrack minorities to join the Peace Corps.

    Recommendation: The Director, Peace Corps, should follow through on his efforts to develop a long-term strategy to attract more minorities. This strategy should include realistic minority goals for volunteers and staff, a concerted effort to deal with the perception of minorities that the Peace Corps is a white, middle-class institution, the provision of better demographic information to recruiters, better training, and targeted advertising and recruitment campaigns to attract minorities.

    Agency Affected: Peace Corps

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Incentives included promotion, cash awards, and staff only recruit for skilled volunteers.

    Recommendation: The Director, Peace Corps, should provide recruiters with incentives and rewards for meeting or exceeding their targeted scarce-skill recruitment goals.

    Agency Affected: Peace Corps

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Funds for demographic data were appropriated, advertising was increased for scarce skills, and staff only recruit for scarce skills.

    Recommendation: The Director, Peace Corps, should provide recruitment personnel with demographic and market studies to help recruiters to better understand their availability markets and allow them to define and target their recruitment and advertising efforts, particularly for scarce-skill recruits.

    Agency Affected: Peace Corps

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Peace Corps has redesigned recruitment strategies to attract volunteers with scarce skills.

    Recommendation: The Director, Peace Corps, should redesign the Corps' recruitment strategies and programs to attract volunteers with scarce skills.

    Agency Affected: Peace Corps

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Peace Corps implemented PATS. All projects should be converted to PATS by early FY 1993.

    Recommendation: The Director, Peace Corps, should require that systematic procedures are put in place to ensure that each country post develops periodic, comprehensive program plans that, at a minimum, provide for data upon which to evaluate the posts' and their volunteers' contributions.

    Agency Affected: Peace Corps

 

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